RISING GAS PRICES: Impacting county, consumers

COLUMBIA CITY — Gas prices typically rise in the spring, and 2013 should be no exception.What makes this year different from others is the timing. Instead of waiting for spring, pump-price increases have already begun. The price of crude oil has risen in the past six weeks. It currently sits at $95.93, up more than $10 from the period just before Christmas. This accounts for a rise at the pumps, which normally does not occur until the early part of spring as travel is anticipated to increase.While these events have an impact on people around the country and globe, there is also an impact on a local level. Gas price increases have joined a two percent payroll tax increase, factors that could squeeze the wallets of consumers.“With the 2 percent tax taken from my paycheck, the gas prices rising and grocery prices rising, my future is bankrupt,” commented Todd Brown of Columbia City on The Post & Mail’s Facebook page.Eventually, governing bodies on all levels could feel the effects of these price increases. While discussing possible tax rates, Whitley County Council members said the price of fuel could have an impact.“We might have to curtail mileage (on some county vehicles),” said Council Member Jim Bayman. “Gas is high. Even at $3 per gallon it is high.”Part of the rise in crude oil is due to economic gains. The U.S. stock market hit a five-year high in January. Growing economies usually have rises in prices in several areas, including crude oil.A lack of supply is also part of the problem for gas prices. Refineries on the West Coast have been going through maintenance, and lower inventories have been a problem for East Coast locations.This rise could impact consumer spending. January was a good month, according to retailers, but that could slow.For a more in-depth look at this story, see the Feb. 8 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.